Tuesday, May 5

A Letter

This was another English assignment--to write a letter. No other requirements. But once I started this letter, I couldn't stop [crying...]. I've decided to share it because I know that many, many parents feel like I do. They feel like their love is so great for their children that no one else could possibly love their babies more. That's definitely how I feel anyway. So I wrote a letter to my children, because besides my Savior and husband, there are no beings I love more. 

Dear Tenley & Declan (& all my babies to come),

I want you to know with certainty that I love you. I hope there won’t be but expect there will probably be a few times when you wonder if that’s true. I promise you it is. The days that you were born were some of the physically hardest but most wonderful of my life. The only greater day was marrying your dad in the Boston temple for all eternity and by doing so, insuring that each of you would be sealed to us forever and ever. 

I am so thankful for the gift of eternal families. I want to be with each one of my amazing children forever. I know that one day, each of you will find an eternal companion to form your own families with. I will be happy for you at this time, but also sad knowing that you do not need me the way you do now. I think of how I feel toward my own parents right now. I love them so much, and hope I get to be with them forever, but even more, I love my husband and children and never want to part from them. Because you are mine. But you are also someone else's. 

As much as I hope you will always love me the way you do as my little babies, I want you to love someone else even more your whole life through. That person is your Father in Heaven. I can’t imagine loving you any more than I do. But somehow, your Father in Heaven’s love surpasses my own. That love must truly be infinite to exceed the love I feel for you. I hope you will always love Him, and your Savior Jesus Christ more than you do me. Nothing will bring you greater joy than loving your Savior.

I want you to know something else too concerning your faith. It’s okay to wonder, it’s okay to question. You must do the work yourself to find out the truth. People receive answers in different ways. Some receive actual answers from another person or a whispered Voice, some feel warmth, and some think they are receiving no answer at all. But learn to be patient. Trust in the Lord’s timing. He will answer you if you wait. As you grow up you lean on the testimony of your parents. You cannot do this forever. Someday you must take the time to start asking and studying for yourself. Pray for understanding and faith. Ask for help from us, your parents, and from other trustworthy leaders of the Church.

There will be sad times when you feel like you’ve failed. I have failed again and again in my life, usually at the same things over and over. Remember that the purpose of the Savior’s Atonement is to provide a way for us to fix those wrongs so we are not trapped in our sin and return to Heavenly Father. We do not fully understand the Atonement (I have been trying to my whole life) but we know that it heals us. We can be perfect again and again when we repent. Do not be afraid of repentance. It can seem like a scary or embarrassing thing because it means we have done something wrong. But repentance restores us. If you are repenting it means you care about being better. We should feel grief at our sins, but joy because we can fix them with repentance. Never feel that you are too unworthy to pray. You can always pray to your Father in Heaven. He will always listen to you.

My patriarchal blessing promised me great joy in motherhood. I can tell you I have never experienced greater joy than being your mother. I love it so much that I want more and more of you so I can have little children to love all my life, even when you’ve left to create your own families. Someday when you become a mother or a father, I know you’ll experience that incredible flood of love for your children and recognize in a small way the immense feeling I have for each of you.

I wish I could always make you feel the depth of my love for you. I know I get angry and frustrated and impatient too often. I am so imperfect. I want to be the best mother you could possibly have. I cry when you cry and cry when I get too upset with you. I do not feel deserving to be your mom because you are so wonderful that you deserve nothing but the best. But I can promise you that I will always try. I will always try to be better and love you with my whole heart.

As you grow, I am going to do my best to teach you right from wrong, but more important than that, I will teach you to have the courage to choose right. I hope that you are obedient to the standards of the Church. Not everyone is naturally obedient, but you can teach yourself to be obedient. You always have this choice. I hope you will have joy in the gospel and even when you question it, find your faith and return with your testimony stronger and firmer. Know that I am doing my best to hold weekly Family Home Evenings with our little family, and also daily scripture study and family prayer. Sometimes we have to call dad at work and do scripture study and prayer over the phone because of his schedule. I’ve even tried reading four verses a night and doing a separate prayer just with you, Tenley, to help you practice doing personal study so when you’re old enough, you can take over doing this by yourself. It’s not easy to do these things with two under two. It feels like you don’t listen at all. But I know you are feeling the Spirit when we do them. And I know you listen more than I realize based on how you always shout “Amen!” afterward. Nothing is more important to me than being with my family forever. So I continue doing these things, even if it often feels like I’m just going through the motions. I want you to be prepared for the world when you are older and feel as though you are armed with a fervent testimony of Jesus. Because of Him you never have to be afraid that everything will work out. It will.

If I could pick just five things to impress on you (though it’s hard to pick just five), I think the most important things I hope you to be are these:

Be Kind. There is too little kindness in this world and I want my children to be a friend to everyone. I want you to help those in need even if it means sacrificing on your part. If you love your brother, you will be kind to him. You will look at the man as you think God would see him and not as the flawed person the world sees. Heavenly Father will be happy to see you love His children.

Be Grateful. Be thankful to Heavenly Father for all He has given you. There are so many blessings. Be grateful to your Savior for His sacrifice. In your prayers, always be mindful to thank them for all you have been given. Have humility about all you have been blessed with and about the talents and gifts you have been given. A grateful heart is a happy heart, and more than anything I want you to be happy.

Be Genuine. This means being honest to others and to yourself. Treat others fairly. Be honest in your words and your dealings with others. Have integrity. This means having the courage to admit your mistakes when you have done wrong. Practice what you preach. In other words, be true to your beliefs and standards and refrain from judging people, especially for making the same mistakes you’ve made.

Be Forgiving. We are required to forgive all men. It is hard. There are truly evil people who feel no remorse for what they’ve done. And there are those who are hard to forgive because they were close to you and have betrayed you and your trust. But forgiveness frees you from anger and pain. It allows you to have happiness again. Those who do not have forgiveness in their hearts, can never be truly happy with the sins and mistakes of others burdening them. So choose to let it go. It will be hard to forget the wrong, but at the very least, let go of your anger.

Be Courageous. I want my children to be the ones to stand up for the right. I want them to be willing to go against the norm in order to help another. I want them to have courage in their faith and be willing to share it without fear of rejection. I want them to have the courage to admit when they are wrong. I want them to courageously love, even if it means getting their heart broken. I want them to have the courage to not take offense. I want them to have the courage to be kind, to be genuine, to be forgiving. These are not easy things and sometimes they do not come naturally to a person. But with practice, they will come easily and you will ultimately be happier because of it.

Remember that you are loved. I can’t tell you how much I love you and you will not understand until you are in my position yourself. But trust me.

With all my heart, I love each one of you.

Your mother in this short life,

Olivia O’Rissa Searle Gunnell

1 comment:

I absolutely love to hear from you & will reply if I can!